How far should I go to protect my family?

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Image courtesy Chicks With Guns
One of the weirdest conversations I’ve had as an adult was the time my husband and I talked about safety in our new home. There had been a few home invasions in the area, where men had entered houses at night and demanded money or delivered pistolwhippings. Our conversation wandered from deadbolt locks to mace to, “What if we got a gun?”

We’d never discussed gun ownership before — and I don’t have many opinions on guns, other than I like shooting my dad’s .22 at hay bales. So my head reeled a little bit when hub said, “I’m just not sure I feel comfortable with what owning a gun for self-defense would mean — that I’d have to accept that any time I might pull the trigger I might kill another person.”

The question just rolled around in my head for a few months, until Lindsay McCrum’s book Chicks with Guns came out. It’s a collection of portraits of American women and their firearms, and it’s…diverse.

To have a gun or not to have a gun is a strange conversational space for a woman. Women with firearms are still sort of a novelty — even in the Midwest, I see at least one human interest story a year where a local news crew talks about some lady who likes to hunt. The thought! At the same time, one of the few people I know who owns a gun is my lady housemate (even though she doesn’t keep it here).

In popular culture, the talk about women and guns often centers on how we should use “less-lethal” methods to protect ourselves because our weapons are likely to be turned against us, and that’s sometimes as deep as it goes.

That conversation happened months ago, and I’m still not sure if I’m comfortable with owning a gun. Of course, I know deep down in the heat of a scary moment I might feel differently, but right now I don’t know if I trust myself enough to make the right decisions when adrenaline is pumping and fight or flight decisions are happening. I don’t know if I could own a gun, knowing that I might kill somebody with it, whether they “deserved” it or not.

Image courtesy Chicks With Guns

For now, we’ve decided we’d rather not have a gun in our house because we aren’t ready for that commitment. Have you had this conversation at home? Did you have any weird adult realizations when you did? Dish.

Comments on How far should I go to protect my family?

  1. This is an issue that I am very glad my husband and I are on the same side of, which is “No guns, thanks.” Like others have said, in the event in your run of the mill home invasion, you’re unlikely to be able to get to your gun, load it, and use it properly. This is especially the case if you have kids like me and want to keep the gun unloaded and locked up for their safety.

    It’s probably not super popular to say out loud, but I’m a believer in aggressive stimuli, too.

    My father was in law enforcement when I was a kid and there were always guns around. Their presence never made me feel safer, so I guess that is part of the reason I know one wouldn’t make me feel any safer now. I know I don’t have it in me to go practice at shooting ranges and develop a gun culture in our home, either; so there is pretty much no aspect of gun ownership that fits our family.

  2. Guns terrify me and I will never have them in my house. My father had rifles for hunting and also carried a handgun for his job. I remember there being guns around when I was little, but I was always too scared of them to ever lay a finger on one. (I don’t remember being taught not to touch them, but that fear must have come from somewhere.) My husband, being English, also has no desire to have a gun in the house, either. (Although he did buy a few swords the other day…) When Dad died last year, my four siblings were discussing how to divide up the guns. After I said that we didn’t want any, my sister asked if we wanted her to save some for our potential future children. And I found that very strange, and a very American mentality – if we don’t want a gun, why would we want to pass them on to our children?

  3. This is a weird discussion for me, and one that hits VERY close to home.
    When I was in college, I had a gun held to my head and my bag stolen while walking home to my apartment. This was in a neighborhood of million dollar homes, not the ‘hood.

    I realized two very important things from this experience.
    1. Anything can happen anywhere to anyone.
    2. Guns are FREAKING scary.

    My fiance is in the testing process to be a police officer for our county. If he makes it through (and has been making it through each step with flying colors thus far) he will have to carry a firearm on the job. And it will come home with him.

    This has been an ongoing discussion as to how to make this safe and comfortable.
    We have researched gun safes and he has already started talking to me about learning to use it, which I’m not excited about. Because I support my future husband’s career aspirations (it’s what he’s wanted to do since we were kids) I have to live with a gun in the house. I’ll never be super comfortable with that. But at least I can educate myself and learn how to load and shoot it and practice all the necessary safety measures to be a responsible gun owner.

  4. My question is this: Why is your family not worth killing someone. If they break into your house, they are willing to kill you. I am certainly not going to let my families safety rest on a “security system” or mace.

    An armed society is a polite society.

    Guns are inanimate objects that are no more dangerous than the person behind them.

    It is certainly the hope that you will never have to use a gun to hurt someone, but if you do, in order to save your butt legally, your conversation with 911 and the cops should always be that I shot that person to stop the threat. If you shoot someone, begin CPR and first aid and call 911 immediately, and inform the person on the other end what happened and that youre performing CPR and first aid. Your intent is to stop the threat, not to kill them because they broke in. If that means killing to save yourself and your family, so be it, but it is of course not the desired outcome.

  5. We have a gun in our house. Or perhaps I should be more specific to say that my husband owns a hunting rifle (or maybe a muzzle-loader) and it is currently propped up by the back door. Previously it was living under the bed and I didn’t know it. I will admit to being momentarily surprised that we had a gun in the house, but how else are we going to get venison? (Please, not with my car again!) But since we don’t have any kids, my husband was a gunner in the Army, and I grew up a country kid who knows better than to touch a firearm that is not my own, I am not worried about it.

    But that gun is for hunting, not protection. Because I live in the Big, Bad suburbs of Detroit now, my dad keeps trying to get me a handgun. Which I refuse because I am very clumsy and I am the last person you want handling any sort of gun. Plus, I likely wouldn’t shoot anyone and so there is no point in having a gun that I would never use. (Because no one really uses a handgun to go deer hunting. Handguns are for target practice or shooting people.)

  6. My dad is a policeman, and I grew up with him carrying a handgun everywhere, including to church every Sunday. I also didn’t realize he kept his guns in the house until I was a teenager – they were kept in his uniform closet, the one place in our house that I was NEVER allowed to go. I seem to remember growing up believing instant death would rain down on my head if I ever crossed the threshold. I never touched a gun until I was well into high school; guns were things police had, and I didn’t. So I think saying ‘I wouldn’t have guns in the house with kids’ is, although understandable, unnecessary. It is certainly possible to keep guns in the house and put the fear of God into your kids about not touching them. Guns scared the hell out of me BECAUSE my dad used them in his job, not because I had never been around one.

    To add a new perspective from my current situation – my boyfriend is ex-military and has a concealed carry license. He’s pretty much always got a gun with him. I am okay with this; yes, because he has the stability of character and motives to assure me he wouldn’t use lethal force unless the situation absolutely demanded it, but more because he’s a safe, experienced, and reassuringly accurate shot. He has put in years of training with various kinds of firearms. To me, experience and comfort are key. To reference the linked article in the original post: it IS condescending and wrong to assume that lethal weapons will be taken from a woman by a stronger (assumed male) person and used against her. But that does happen, because we assume an unwarranted familiarity with dangerous and complicated tools. If you think putting a dusty pistol in your bedside drawer and forgetting about it is going to keep you from getting raped, you’re wrong. But I seriously doubt that a female Marine is going to get her gun taken away by a thug on the street corner.

    I guess what I’m saying is – if you want to carry, put in the time and effort required to become competent and reliable. If you own or carry a gun without doing so, you’re a danger to yourself and everyone around you. People who do put in that time and effort, though, don’t automatically become more likely to shoot people; they just have an additional option available in case of certain violent and dangerous situations. It’s a risk, but a calculated one, and not one that I feel is unreasonable.

  7. My husband is a police officer, so having guns in our home is a no-brainer. I used to become physically ill at the thought of having to defend myself against an attacker (the only time using a gun to murder someone would be in the cards) but my thinking changed completely as soon as we were married – I had a family to protect and to go home to regardless of what someone else’s plans were. Not only do we both have personal hand guns in addition to his issued guns, but we feel it is our position in the community to protect others. I don’t carry a gun with me in public, but have drawn it at home when I’ve heard strange noises or the dogs have gone into protection mode (our 50 lb puppy is half boxer and puffs her chest up noticeably when she suspects someone else in the house, so it’s pretty clear what she’s doing), and neighbors know we’re a police family and will run to us for help in a crisis, so I may end up being the only one with a gun for that family, too. My husband carries a gun on him most everywhere because it’s his duty to protect others and people have opened fire in the middle of church services before. We view them as a necessary evils and yeah, unfortunately we’ve had to resolve ourselves to the fact that we may end up killing someone one day if they put themselves in poor circumstances but we feel it’s our duty to others. I could never live with myself if I stood back and allowed someone else to hurt others when I could have prevented it.

  8. I come from a hunting family. I hunt deer because I love the outdoors, and I love to get back to my roots so to speak. To be a hunter, dependent on your skills and patience for your meal. I personally have no problem with guns in the house. In fact I can’t wait to have (unloaded/locked) guns on display in the house. My fiance doesn’t come from a hunting family, and although he also loves the outdoors he doesn’t like the concept of hunting, and only likes target shooting. We both are into martial arts and that’s my only real form of exercise! We both firmly believe that if you do conceal and carry, it is a last resort. “Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” -Sun Tzu Art of War. my fiance encountered 4 drunk college kids with baseball bats, looking to pick a fight. He couldn’t run away. Instead of escalating, or easily kicking their asses, he offered them something to eat. And you know what, it worked. I may love and enjoy shooting guns, but if you do have to fire one to protect your family, take a gun defense course, to learn how not to let the bad guy get the gun. Oh and make sure you kill them. A dead man can’t sue or defend himself in court. Stay aware, stay safe!

    • Maybe I’m misunderstanding something here. If so, please explain. Are you really saying that it’s better to kill someone than to have to deal with a lawsuit or let a home invader have a trial?


      Why do you consider you killing that person preferable to the other two options?

      • If you go to a concealed carry class, a lot of times that’s exactly what they’ll tell you to do. A home invader who had every intention of robbing you and doing worse is still a person, and if you let them live, they have the ability to get a lawyer and make sure YOU get put behind bars.
        So yes, if you have a gun, and you point that gun at a person, you better be darn willing to kill them. And if you kill them, you don’t utter another word without a lawyer. Not one.

      • Imba – It does sound crazy that it is better to kill but unfortunately, because of the legal system, it is. If a person breaks into your home and injures themselves on the window they broke, they can sue you. If you shoot them and don’t kill, they can sue. You can also go to jail for holding a robber at gunpoint in your home until the police get there. There are cases where a homeowner beat someone with a baseball bat and because the suspect lived, the homeowner went to jail. It is a very hard mentality to get into but I would not want to go to jail because someone broke into my home (with ill intent towards me and my family) and then hurt themselves.

  9. Being married to a police officer, we def keep guns in our home. The daily death threats on our family and running into offenders he’s arrested around town (30mins outside of the city he works in) is enough for me to want to get comfortable using the weapons we possess.

    Unlike many of the other commenters, we keep our weapons loaded and hidden strategically around our home. We also possess 2 shepards who also serve as protection but ultimately are a means for us to have enough time to move our kids to a safe spot and access our firearms in the event of a serious threat.

    Along with or kids and dogs, we go out in the country and shoot all of our weapons every few months. This allows me to be comfortable with them and kills the curiosity in our boys. Its also a way to teach them to respect the guns.

    I would say, if you are going to buy one firearm to keep in your home, go with a shotgun. You dont have to have precise aim in a moment of panic, its easy to load and the sound of loading it is enough to scare an intruder away.

    My husband always tells me, if you are prepared to shoot at someone for self protection, you ALWAYS shoot to kill and be ready to articulate how you got into that predicament.

  10. Can I just say that OBH is awesome because of conversations like this? I love all of the diverse lifestyles represented and how reasoned, thoughtful, and respectful everyone has been about a topic that can be very polarizing and emotional. Cat, thanks for moderating so that this can be a safe place to discuss!

    • I agree! This issue has really thrown me BECAUSE it’s on OBH. I usually identify so much with the issues brought up here, but in this one, I’m the minority. I think I could have gotten riled up about it, but everyone is very respectful and thoughtful that it made me think twice. I had to really look at the issue from other perspectives and question my assumptions about my subculture and many others. And isn’t that the point here?! Well one of the points 🙂

  11. My husband has guns, both hand guns and rifles, and while I have shot his .22 before I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near comfortable handling them. This, however, doesn’t make me uncomfortable having them in the house(especially since it’s just the two of us right now). I doubt I could ever be truly comfortable with a handgun simply because i have no desire to learn to properly shoot the thing and it really has only one purpose. Rifles on the other hand fascinate me, along with the idea of learning how to hunt, so someday I’m sure I will have my own one of those. As far as personal protection goes, if someone tries to assault me either in home or out my first instinct will always to grab for my pocket knife. This is simply because i have training in knife arts, both attacking and defending, and unlike a firearm a folded pocket knife can be just as effective as an open one.

    Really I think that if anyone wants to protect themselves from any sort of attack they should be confident and competent in whatever they chose, whether it’s a gun, a knife, or a baseball bat.

  12. For me, I’ll never own a gun. And I live in Memphis, which has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. It’s partly because I’m a pacifist, and I feel like adding more guns to the mix is never going to solve the problem.
    It’s more because I work with kids with brain injuries. Like a four year old who finds his grandma’s handgun and thinks it’s a toy, and then accidentally shoots himself in the head. You just can’t look in the eyes of a kid who is now unable to talk or even sit by himself – just because we are all trying to one-up each other with our guns – and not think that there’s a problem with our way of dealing with things. It’s just not worth it in my opinion.
    That said, if I think of someone coming after my husband or the theoretical kids I might have someday, I can see why people would be willing to do anything. But for me… still not worth it.

  13. J and I have had the gun discussion before. Once I am properly trained in gun safety and once we no longer have roommates, we will have guns in the house. J would like to have one now, but I put my foot down because I don’t want anything bad to happen because I didn’t know what I was doing and he agrees with me.

    In the meantime we have two kabars (one on each side of the bed,) a kukri, and a badass warhammer made out of rebar. Our roommate has two swords and an axe. Soon I will have my recurve bow. We’re also a household with a Zombie Apocalypse plan.

  14. We have lots of guns and the majority are mine. But, even with a household of trained shooters, we do not keep them loaded. Even when I am home alone I sleep with a great big club instead. Why?
    1. I wear corrective lenses… need to pop those in before I can shoot.
    2. I know exactly how riled up I get preparing to kill a turkey, multiply that by 1000.
    3. I can cause great personal damage to my self, partner and neighbors if I roll over a loaded pistol. The club just means I feel cold and move it.
    To be honest a person who buys a pistol and fires 6 rounds through it before bringing it home to protect their family probably won’t even remember how to turn off the safety in an emergency. Think about how hard it is to remember how to run your microwave or alarm clock when you get startled out of sleep. I forget where the bathroom is. Get a gun if you want but I strongly suggest having a form of protection you are really comfortable with first. But to answer the question. I’ll go as far as I have to.

  15. Wow, this post was a major cross-cultural moment for me. I’m Canadian and I live in one of the most “dangerous” areas of Toronto in a very unsecured apartment on the ground floor. We have had violence happen down the hall in the lobby and have had an intoxicated person try to get into our home. There is also fairly significant gun violence that happens in our neighbourhood.

    All of this being said, it has NEVER occurred to my husband or to me that we should have any kind of weapon on hand for use on intruders. Ever!

    When we consider safety in our not-always-super-safe environment, we do things like check the hallway mirrors to make sure no one follows us in (and stay in the lobby and make a phone call if someone seems suspicious), use the peephole and lock the door behind us when we come in. If someone were to break in, the goal would be to escape the apartment, not to kill the intruder.

    I’m sympathetic to the highly charged emotions and the real dangers of home invasion, but I just can’t get on board with the idea that “anyone who breaks into my home deserves whatever they get.” The reasons people have for committing crimes are super diverse, and I really don’t think I could accept the possibility that I might kill someone who may not have been a real and immediate threat to my life and might have been either in a confused state due to mental illness/addiction issues (as is often the case for many of my neighbours) or after a new laptop or something.

    The thought that somebody’s kid could be shot dead by my hand when the only thing I’m actually preventing could be the theft of something worth a few hundred dollars is just not something I can live with. That being said, I think it’s interesting to be awakened to my own cultural bias and to recognize that the “givens” I base my perspective on are not at all the same as many people who live not too far from here!

    It’s also interesting to me to consider the question of gun ownership (as separate from guns-as-protection-against-people) because I am going to be moving very soon to a remote community in the arctic circle where carrying firearms is a way of life for both hunting and (I’m being serious here) for protection against polar bears! This will be a major cultural adjustment for me and I am really going to have to think through my assumptions about not carrying/owning firearms.

    • As a fellow Canadian I totally agree with all of your comments. Guns, all of them, make me extremely nervous. That being said when I worked in the Arctic (remote field camp, not near a community) I were required to carry a shotgun for polar bear protection. It was very strange and I got somewhat used to it but I still really dislike guns. When you do move to your arctic town be aware that some communities do not like people carrying guns in town, they are for on the land only. Also consider borrowing a dog from your neighbors you want to go for a walk near town as a dog can really scare a polar bear away. The dogs are trained to do this. Have fun!

    • I’m an American and I totally agree with all of your comments!

      Your point about mental illness is really important. Mentally ill people are far more likely to be shot by cops, as well. We should be trying to make our communities safer by getting people the help they need, rather than just killing them.

  16. My partner owns a rifle, but he keeps it at his parents house because of how much I dislike firearms. I live in New Zealand, and not many people have guns, except for farmers and that sort of thing. Not even all our police officers have guns – some have them in lockboxes in their cars, but I’ve never seen an officer with one on their hip in my life. Most of my friends have probably never seen a gun either, I didn’t lay eyes on one until I was 19.

    As far as home protection does, deadbolts and alarms are more my style than guns.

  17. If you do get a gun, I do not recommend a Glock. Those are known to accidentally discharge because they lack a safety. If you purchase a shotgun, be sure to shoot one first. Shotguns definitely have some kickback to them. Racking back a shotgun is not always enough to scare someone so you better be prepared to use it and know how to properly unload it. An unloaded shotgun can be easily taken from you and still used as a weapon against you. As for pistols, I recommend a revolver with a Fobus holster. It is physically impossible for the gun to go off while in the holster.
    If guns aren’t an option then I hear wasp spray is an excellent substitute for mace 🙂

    • FYI: Glocks DO have a safety built into the trigger.

      This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the safest guns in the world. The most frequent “accidental discharges” come from improper holsters or overly worn holsters (or people forgetting to keep their booger hooks off the bang switch, if you get my meaning).

  18. I’m surprised nobody has hitherto mentioned knives. Guns are out of the question because a) we live in the UK, and b) I have trouble throwing a ball to a willing recipient in broad daylight and a calm state of mind, let alone waking up panicked and in the dark and firing a heavy machine which will squirm around like a snake once the trigger is pulled at somebody who really does not want to get shot.

    Knives though, knives I can use. I carried one when I was 15 or so, as we lived way out in the sticks and I’d take a five-mile walk to visit my friends. When my grandad found out, he wisely decided to teach me how to use it. Note: my education in how to use a knife was how to deliver a killing blow. I would prefer not to have to kill anybody, but it’s useful to have that knowledge.

    One of the good things about knives is that you don’t need to worry about permits or the like, and having children pick them up isn’t as much of an issue as with guns because basically every parent has had the “no, put that down, it’s sharp” conversation, so there’s a lot of precedent for dealing with that.

    There was something else, which I’ve forgotten… Oh yes! The downside of using a knife for home defense though is that there’s not much threatening you can do… there’s no distinct noise that can scare off invaders like there is with, say, a pump-action shotgun. Unless you invest in a good-quality katana and practise unsheathing it for hours on end to get that sssshing sound… So if you have a gun, you can use the mere sight of it to scare people off, but knives are more familiar and thus less scary and thus the sight of a woman wielding a knife doesn’t seem like a threat, it seems like a scared woman has gone for the first pointy thing she could find.

    That said, although we live in the third most violent city in the UK, we’ve never encountered any problems. I still carried a knife with me for a while (back when I was working in a nightclub and walking home alone through the dodgy end of town at 4am) but then I pretty much figured that if I get attacked I won’t have time to grab it and if the police happen to do a random stop-and-search, hello prison!

    I would say whatever you’re comfortable and familiar with is always the best weapon, whether it’s a knife, gun, dog, bit of wood, karate skills or landmines.

  19. Honestly, I think that the “powers that be” don’t want the populace having firearms, and one of their major arguments is because of “children’s safety”. My boyfriend and his 2 siblings grew up in a home where there was always a loaded rifle leaned in a corner by the front door. Always, as in from the time they were babies. They knew not to touch it. Simple as that. They were homeschooled, so they were home ALL THE TIME with it, and none of them ever touched it without permission or hurt themselves.
    My dad was a gun collector, and I grew up in a house with 20+ firearms, though none were kept by the living room door, lol. Neither me nor my sister ever touched a gun without permission, even into our teenage years.
    My boyfriend and I have 2 toddlers, and we have several guns, one of which we keep loaded in a place where the children couldn’t reach it, but either one of us could quickly if we needed to. Both the kids have been trained not to touch the guns.
    Kids CAN be taught to obey, and you don’t have to be afraid to have a gun just because you have children in the house.

  20. I’ve shot guns before, my mom’s a huge gun enthusiast (see, she made me stop saying “gun nut!”) and I have *tons* of friends who are into guns. That said, my husband and I have mentioned it to each other a couple times and every time we come to the conclusion that we just don’t feel safe with one in the house.

    We live in Richmond, VA (“murder city”, yay!) but we don’t own a flat screen which is what the last rash of home breakins was for reportedly — if you can manage to boost up to see in the one un-curtained window into the living room, it’s very obvious that we have a clunker TV. Plus, we have a Corgi (ok, not very intimidating) and an Aussie (there we go! bigger!) who are happy to bark at anything coming near our house.

    I’m just not comfortable with the idea of a gun in the home. The risks outweigh the benefits to me. For some people, the scales tilt differently, which is fine — I’m Quaker-ish, so I just can’t see myself being okay with shooting someone to kill. We’re trying to have a baby, so maybe I’ll think differently once there’s a kid I have to protect, but I think the likelihood that we’d need a gun for self defense is slim, and I’d rather chance it with the dogs, yanno?

    • Just having the dogs in the house is a deterrent, regardless of size. When I was a kid, there were a string of robberies in the neighborhood where they were literally making their way down the street. They hit the two houses next door, but not ours, because we had a collie that barked at anyone (but was the sweetest thing).

  21. I have a .22 for safety in my home.
    I am not prepared to shoot a stranger, unless they are threatening my family. In this case, I would probably have said gun on my person, but not ready to shoot. I would be getting out of my house rather than confronting someone.
    However, if my ex shows up, I would be ready to shoot the weapon to defend myself with no hesitation. He’s the entire reason I own the gun.

  22. My husband owns guns. They are not for protection, because they are unloaded and stored out of reach. We have other means of protection and have discussed our plans multiple times.

    For those saying “of course I’d kill someone” … Yes, I think many of us would to protect our selves and/or our families. But please don’t think that–even in that situation–it is something to take lightly. A friend’s late ex-husband had to shoot an intruder (after trying to work with him to just let him take stuff and realizing that was not going to work) and it *destroyed* him. IMHO, it’s completely appropriate that the original poster’s husband is grappling with that question.

  23. I feel the need to put some perspective on this epic discussion.

    First, guns kill people and animals. Weapons also kill people and animals. They are not toys. Much like a motor vehicle, you should not own one without knowing how to safely operate it. Everyone in your home should also know how to safely operate and respect said firearm, whether it be a gun or a rifle. The same could be said about any weapon designed to kill or maim, including bows, swords, tasers, etc.

    Second, there are many, many laws in place that regulate when or how you can protect yourself, even in your own home. In my own state (NC in the US), you cannot shoot or even threaten to shoot an intruder in your home unless they are a) in the act of entering, so you cannot determine their intent, or b) attacking you in a way that is meant to kill or maim you. So, the argument that many are making that you just shoot an intruder to protect your family is not legally sound. In most states, you cannot just shoot someone for breaking into your house with the intent for robbery. So remember that “protecting your family” in many places means “protecting your family when an assailant has illegally entered your home and is carrying a weapon in such a way that you feel he will kill or maim a member of your family”.

    • Yeah, having an attitude of “I’ll just shoot the bastard” probably isn’t a good idea, for legal reasons as well as for the simple fact that most of us, especially as women, really don’t have the capability to just kill someone, either mentally or just straight up being able to get to your gun, aim it, fire correctly, etc, before the intruder got to you, especially if they had a gun.
      I’m the girl with loaded gun in the house and the 2 toddlers, and just shooting a random burglar isn’t the first plan. If I needed to defend myself from a human, there are a few very specific individuals that I’m worried about. More likely, I would use the gun for a snake/coyote/stray feral dog in the yard.
      If there was ever a random break-in, I would try calling 911, hiding (we’re a 1-car family, so when my boyfriend is at work it looks like no one is home sometimes if you just looked in the yard if no one was outside), or slipping out a window and running through the woods to a neighbor’s house. Just shooting someone is the absolute last resort.

  24. Great discussion, all around, and I’d like to add to it if I may.

    I’d like to really address many people’s repeated comments about “guns killing people”. I feel it’s a much more appropriate statement to say that (as was stated upthread but bears repeating) a gun is an inanimate object and only as dangerous as the user. Gun safety, respect and training is an absolutely must in my opinion, if you choose to carry, or own one.
    …I guess I just want to address the issue of “intruder intent”. There have been a lot of really great views on this, but I feel very strongly that if someone were to enter into my home, I simply don’t care about the “why” of it…. I don’t have time to muse over why they’ve broken in…or what they are there to steal, or do. I don’t want to take the time to debate what to do. I want to feel confident that I have a plan in place, whatever that may be, that I am comfortable with to defend my house, my possessions and my life.
    This most obviously will vary from person to person, depending on their level of comfort. But I’m struggling with how to say that owning a gun isn’t bad, and I don’t think that I’m a bad person for knowing that if it came down to it, I have to do whatever it takes to save my life. In that moment, I simply cannot care about anything other than my safety. Will I kill? If I’m smart I know not to draw my weapon of choice unless I intend to remove the threat. Am I always comfortable with that? Perhaps not – shit gets scary when you don’t know what’s going on or your adrenaline is pumping. But in a splitsecond moment I don’t have the luxury of thinking about it when my life may be on the line – and I’m certainly not about to ask my intruder what his/her intentions are….I have to assume the possible worst.

  25. I think the thing that might be missing out of this discussion is, not just if you hear someone breaking in/actually inside your house, it seems more if there is no other option. Let’s face it, not everyone lives in a house/apartment/whatever that is laid out to make escape quickly a possibility, and depending on where/how the intruder breaks in may mean they have you cornered whether they meant to or not.

    So, say I’m sleeping and hear someone break into the front door or even our living room window; in that sort of situation it’s much less risky to slam the bedroom door shut and lock it while barreling out the bedroom window onto our patio. We live on the ground floor so it’s safe and fast but if we were one or more floors up(since there are no fire escapes or such in these apartments) we’d either have to jump and hope not to break anything or have ourselves cornered no matter what.

    I think in every case, if escape is a feasible option that is where you should start. However it is not always so cut and dry, especially if the intruder has any sort of nefarious ideas other than robbing you.

    One thing that makes me worry when my husband and I finally do have kids is the lay out of the house. Most houses these days have a split floor plan, meaning the master bedroom is on one end of the house and the other bedroom(s) are on the opposite. Should someone break in somewhere in the middle of the house and effectively separate us from our children, whether they mean nothing more than burglary or not, makes no difference. I’m not about to escape while my babies are sleeping in the other end of the house and some stranger is lurking inside. In that case you better believe I’m going to do something active to remove the threat from my family, be it a gun or a few good whacks with one of the heavy rattan sticks we have around the house.

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